I can’t for the love of Jehovah comprehend why you knock at my door

hqdefaultOh cripes.

We’re mid-December already, and I’ve got those end-of-year lists to sort out. They really are everywhere and I feel bad about it, but I’m not sure I can be arsed…

How about something not 2016, not festive and not especially relevant to, well, anything? Yeah, back on home territory, thought you’d go for that…

Evan Dando

Was languidly thumbing through the CD pile the other day and I chanced upon Lemonheads’ It’s A Shame about Ray – a record I listened to a lot at the time but I don’t think I’ve touched for many, many years. You will, of course, know by now what a lovely group of songs it is, but it’s always a joy to revisit an old standard. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed belting out “Alison’s Starting to Happen”, crooning along to “It’s a Shame about Ray” and bawling “I… JUST…WANT… A BIT-PART… IN YOUR LIFE!” at the top of my voice, as I’ve driven around the ‘Shire over the past week.

But you know all this, and have presumably done the same yourselves. (That’s not just me, right?)

I’ve only just realised, however, that there’s an actual Evan Dando solo record – Baby, I’m Bored – which was released in 2003, and got into the UK Top 40 (so no real excuse for missing it, apart from the obvious). It’s a gap in my knowledge that I’ve been enthusiastically putting right over the last couple of days

And really, there are some picture-perfect songs on here, like this one, a ridiculously flawless ditty from an imaginary Gene/Gram songbook.

 

There are about three or four songs as good as this on the record (plus a bunch of only-slightly less successful ones). Songs such as “All My Life”, “Why do you do this to yourself?” and “Shots is Fired”, all of which deserve to be massive classics in anyone’s collection. They really benefit from the sparer sound solo work can give a writer, and show a temperate, self-knowing tone. Many of the songs are apparently directed at another but such is the man’s notoriously reckless approach to his own well-being that it’s impossible not to read into them a sense of self-rebuke (“whatever part of you that’s been calling the shots is fired…”.) And if it wasn’t already almost as well-known as his drug addictions, you’d have to realise pretty quickly that Evan Dando is a massive Hank Williams fan, with an intuitive sympathy for an old-school outlaw life – there’s apparently a whole album of Hank Williams covers recorded but never released.

You wonder about the man, really. A cursory trip around YouTube will deliver any number of pretty ragged live performances (including a gig he apparently did in his pyjamas), all of which make you worry a little for his state of mind, but then again the recently reformed version of Lemonheads has given us a couple of more than decent records.

Nothing as good as this, mind… (if you want to skip the slightly inane interview, and go straight to a terrific, sympathetic acoustic version of the song, go to 6:10)

Jump to your feet; let us catch your eye!

Kids today, they don’t know they’re born eh? When I was a teenager, five pounds was a lot of money, a hell of a lot in fact. Weeks of saving up. So, blowing it all on a record you knew almost nothing about was an act of foolhardiness to say the least.

Neverheless naïve halfwit that I was, I used to do it regularly, just wanting to hear something new and interesting. There were certainly a few turkeys (basing your record-buying on the whims of a Sounds journalist will do that… Pink Military anyone?), but a few real belters and one in particular that I still listen to on a semi-regular basis.

Pebbles Vol. 2

Pebbles was a multi-volume compilation series, by now quite famous, but at the time, pretty much unknown,a and was made up of obscure sixties garage punk singles. I loved it. Amongst the rough and ready three minute tracks, there were songs by the Moving Sidewalks (Billy Gibbons’ first band), the Sons of Adam (written by Arthur Lee) and Bobby Fuller. There was also a hugely entertaining radio ad by the Electric Prunes for the Vox Wah Wah Pedal (“It’s the now sound! It’s what’s happening!”). Really, I played it to death.

If I’m honest, though, the one track on the album that I didn’t really go for was “Green Fuz” by Randy Alvey and the Green Fuz., which was an incredibly primitive, low-fi number, written to be their “theme tune”. None of the other songs were what you’d call polished, but this one stuck out as being really half-arsed.

Here, have a listen:

Green Fuz – Randy Alvey & the Green Fuz

Kinda basic, isn’t it?

Anyway, over the years, I’ve grown rather fonder of it, and as these things have a knack of doing, a cult has grown up around it, to the extent that a trawl around the Internet even rewards you with an interview with Randy Alvey himself (here), and talk of a series of reunion gigs. I believe the Cramps and one or two others have also covered it and probably even as I write, some bright young thing is no doubt negotiating terms for its use in a mobile phone ad.

Anyway, an album I’ve downloaded this month, and have been enjoying this afternoon particularly is the new(ish) one from the Lemonheads, Varshons. I’ve enjoyed following Evan Dando’s erratic, capering career, and will generally buy anything he puts his name to (again yielding a few stinkers, as above), but this really is a rewarding listen. My favourite track off Varshons is this one:

Green Fuz – The Lemonheads

It’s a more considered affair than the original, although every bit as confused and inept.

I can’t decide which I like the most…